The Singularity, often referred to as the Technological Singularity, is a hypothetical point in the near future at which artificial intelligence (AI) becomes so incredibly advanced that it surpasses human intelligence, leading to rapid, unforeseeable changes in society and technology, life as we know it. The term was popularized by mathematician and computer scientist Vernor Vinge and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
At the Singularity, AI systems would possess the ability to autonomously learn, self-improve, and create new AI systems with very advanced capabilities and more intelligent than themselves, resulting in an exponential increase in intelligence. This self-improvement cycle could lead to AI systems that are vastly more capable and sophisticated than human minds and anything humans can even imagine.
The Singularity is often associated with the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is an AI system that can perform any intellectual task that a human being can do. AGI is distinct from narrow AI, which is designed for specific tasks and lacks the broad cognitive abilities and adaptability of human intelligence.
The implications of the Singularity are the subject of much speculation and debate today. Most people who have thought about it agree that the Singularity would be a decisive turning point in human history. Some view this with awe and trepidation, almost like a religious event that will lead to everlasting life and happiness. Many believe it will bring about tremendous breakthroughs in medicine, energy, and space exploration. Others are more cautious, expressing concerns about the ethical, societal, and existential risks associated with super-intelligent AI systems. Some predict doom and gloom. Others think it is all but impossible.
Predicting the Singularity Start Date
The general caveat to this question given by all experts is that predicting when the Singularity might occur is highly uncertain, as it depends on the pace of AI research, breakthroughs in understanding human cognition, and the development of advanced hardware and software systems. Still, ChatGPT-4 has predicted a 5%-10% chance that the singularity will happen within five years, 2028. Chat GPT-4 did so without knowledge of what has happened since September 2021, when it was last fed data.